A New Zealander has been convicted of murdering 22-year-old Grace Millane, from England and disposing her body after they met up on a Tinder date.
But despite being found guilty the 27-year-old still cannot be named because the judge in the case has not yet lifted a name suppression order he put on at the start of the trial, despite the defendant’s identity already being in the public domain after numerous British newspapers and websites published it last year.
If I’m ever murdered by someone I’m having sex with, I’d like it on record that I will not have consented to being choked so hard that I DIE. You know, just in case lawyers and media try to excuse my death because I once bought some handcuffs from Ann Summers #GraceMillane— Amy 🕯 (@amyalexia) November 20, 2019
A jury deliberated for five hours on Friday, 22 November, before finding him guilty and he will be sentenced on 21 February, when the judge is likely to lift the name suppression order.
Grace's body was discovered in a forest a week after she vanished in downtown Auckland in December 2018. She had arrived in New Zealand as part of a year-long trip, having finished her university course. Her parents were in the public gallery throughout the trial, and wept when the verdict was read out.
Her father David said: "It will not reduce the pain and suffering we've had to endure. Grace was taken away from us in the most brutal fashion a year ago and our lives and family have been ripped apart, this will be with us for the rest of our lives."
The killer claimed Grace had died during rough sex and said she had asked him to choke her and he said he panicked and decided to hide her body.
Many women following the case on social media were outraged that the killer was able to dredge up Grace’s sex life while she was not there to defend herself.
enjoying sex didn’t kill her. Being a member of BDSM sites didn’t kill her. Liking rough or kinky sex didn’t kill her. Solo travelling didn’t kill her. Enjoying life as a young, single woman didn’t kill her. Stop blaming women and girls for their murders. #GraceMillane https://t.co/VgRggcz8oc— Sophie Martyn (@sophmartyn) November 20, 2019
The killer told the trial: “(During the date) she started talking to me about 50 Shades of Grey which is a sex fantasy movie that’s out. She told me there are a few things that she likes doing and that she had done with her ex-partner.”
He said that when the couple had sex: “At first it was just normal, it was very placid, and then she asked me if we could get into bondage, and she started biting and then she asked me to bite her, so I did.”
But he was unable to explain why he had watched pornography on his computer after killing her, why he had taken pictures of her dead body and then calmly went on a Tinder date with another woman the following day.
Prosecutor Brian Dickey said the truth was that the man was seeking "total domination" over his victim.
If the courts can suppress the name of Grace Millane's murderer then they should be able to give her the same consideration and suppress publication of scurrilous allegations intended to slut shame a murder victim.— Havsbjörn 🌊🐻 (@bewarethefish) November 19, 2019
Grace, who came from Wickford in Essex, graduated from the University of Lincoln with a degree in advertising and marketing.
At the time of her death New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke for many Kiwis when she said: "There is this overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country.”
Even if a woman said to someone "choke me to death" it would still be illegal for him to do it so why is grace millane's killer's lawyer allowed to bring up her FetLife account— f*male b*tch (@Ahhmandah) November 20, 2019
Judges in New Zealand sometimes suppress the names of defendants if it is felt they will not get a fair trial if their identities are made public.
But the Grace Millane case has highlighted the difficulty of maintaining a name suppression order in the internet age.
Last year several British media outlets named the defendant in defiance of the New Zealand court orders and Google then emailed his name to users in New Zealand who were signed up for alerts.